Tendrils Of Love

by Keaton Bridges

Remember when the plant had Kathryn by the hair and Chakotay went to help her? This is my idea of what happened.

No copyright infringement intended. I just like to play with the characters now and then.

"It's got me by the hair!" Kathryn lamented laughingly to Chakotay as she tried to free herself from the prehensile plant on her desk. He almost chuckled at her predicament but held himself to a small grin and moved around the desk to help. There was very little space behind the desk where she stood plucking leaves and bits of moss from her uniform and he hesitated, setting aside the visitor's gifts he held to free his hands. Carefully he squeezed in next to her. Kathryn didn't seem at all concerned by his proximity. Chakotay, on the other hand, was all too aware of hers and the way her hip rested against his groin.

Lifting one of the plant's tendrils, he found it coiled tightly around a strand of her hair. "I think it likes you," Chakotay said quietly and hoped to initiate conversation, but Kathryn merely crossed her arms and stilled so he could disentangle her. He soon discovered that despite it's small size and delicate appearance, the tendril possessed great strength. While he worked, the edge of the desk dug into the backs of his legs as he tried desperately to put some space between himself and Kathryn. He froze when she began to shake with silent laughter.

"I'm sorry," she said and looked up apologetically, although her eyes danced with amusement. "I can see your reflection on the computer screen. Such an intense expression, but with your tongue peeking out."

Relieved that she hadn't been laughing at his own predicament, Chakotay gave her a mock scowl and pointed a finger. "I should leave you here like this."

"Why?!" Suddenly she was the picture of innocence.

"For laughing at me."

"I said I was sorry," she said with a roll of her yes then guided his hands back to her hair. "I'll be good. I promise."

The crooked grin she wore made him doubt her sincerity but he had to admit that it was nice to see her in a playful mood. "See that you do," he said and went back to work. Kathryn turned her gaze forward, still grinning.

Chakotay was relieved again when she shifted her stance slightly and created a small space between them, and he focused on his task. Finally freeing the strand of her hair, he was about to declare victory when he noticed that two other tendrils had taken hold elsewhere. "Damn."

"What is it?"

"I'm being outsmarted by a potted plant!" He enjoyed her laughter when he explained what had happened, then made a suggestion. "Maybe we should just cut them."

"No!" she cried, her smile gone. "It's alive, Chakotay! You can't cut them!"

"Suit yourself," he said and exhaled as he turned her face forward. "But we're going to be here for a while."

"I don't mind if you don't." She was smiling again. "It's been a while since we've talked about anything other than ship's business."

"True." Chakotay went to work on another tendril and smiled to himself, happy to be spending this time with Kathryn.

"I heard about your little...incident."

His fingers stilled for a moment then he quietly cleared his throat. "What incident would that be?"

"You mean there was more than one?" she asked, turning to look at him. The movement interrupted his progress and he groaned.

"I almost had that one," he scolded lightly and once again turned her face forward. "Keep still."

"Sorry." Her patience was brief. "Well?"

"If you're talking about the Omurran dancing girl, I had no other choice."

"Actually, I was talking about the couple you discovered in your quarters, but I'd much rather hear about the dancing girl."

"I bet you would."

"Oh come on, Chakotay. I'll see the report eventually anyway."

"This may come as a surprise but I don't put everything in my reports."

"Well that's a relief!"

"Excuse me?"

"Otherwise we might have to call you Monk Chakotay."

"Ha. Ha. Ha." With his fingers still in her hair, he leaned around to look her in the face. "Very funny. Maybe we should call you Mistress Janeway?" Chakotay allowed himself a good long look at her expression of horror then straightened and resumed his task, chuckling.

"How...how did you know about that?!" Kathryn finally managed in a strangled voice.

"Tom and B'Elanna," he answered. She groaned. "They recognized your voice when the shop owner was trying to get the dressing room door unjammed. Wisely, they left before he was able to let you out."

"I tried on a pair of pajamas!" Kathryn snapped.

"You don't have to explain..."

"Furthermore," she went on indignantly, "I had no idea there was a...a sex shop at the back of the store!"

"Of course you didn't."

Having heard the smile in his voice, Kathryn turned sharply to glare at him. Chakotay lifted his hands in the air then let them fall to his sides.

"Kathryn, I'm never going to finish if you don't hold still."

"There were some lovely lavender pajamas in the window," she explained stiffly. "I went in to try them on."

"I believe you," he said placatingly and with as serious an expression as he could muster, and for the third time repositioned her head.

Kathryn changed the subject. "Well? Are you going to tell me about the dancing girl or not?"

"Fine," he said and sighed, going back to work. "Neelix and I were on the outpost and stopped in at a small pub for a drink. The bartender had just served us when loud music started to play, and a woman climbed up on the bar and started to dance." From the corner of his eye Chakotay could see that Kathryn's anger was waning. "I finished my drink in a hurry and was ready to leave but Neelix wouldn't hear of it. He was entranced! He said it would be rude of us to leave in the middle of her dance and..."

"Was she pretty?" Kathryn interrupted.

"I suppose. If you're partial to gray skin and ears that rival a Ferengi's." He grinned when Kathryn laughed. "Apparently, even though Neelix was the one who couldn't keep his eyes off her, she only had eyes for me. She danced right in front of me and ignored all the other patrons, including Neelix. I don't mind telling you, there were some pretty rough looking characters in there and they weren't pleased that all her attention was on me. I started to get up to leave, with or without Neelix, and that's when she knelt down on the bar and...well, let's just say she couldn't keep her hands off me. All four of them!" Kathryn laughed again, having apparently forgotten her earlier embarrassment. Chakotay continued. "By then, Neelix had gotten over his fascination and was more interested in watching me squirm. I managed to get up to go but she jumped down and blocked my path. I tried to get around her but she was too fast. She...she wrapped herself around me!" Kathryn was shaking so hard with laughter that he was forced to abandon his work and she turned to look at him. "She was a lot like this plant, come to think of it. Every time I managed to pry off one limb, another grabbed me. By this time Neelix was literally rolling on the floor so my pleas for help went ignored."

"Wha--what did you do?" Kathryn asked in a strangled voice, wiping tears from her face.

"I stunned her."

There was a beat of silence before Kathryn howled with laughter, leaning on the desk for support. Chakotay delighted in seeing her let go and her laughter was music to his spirit. When she was finally able to regain some control she wiped more tears from her face and looked up at him.

"God, I needed that," she said.

Smiling, Chakotay's eyes traveled affectionately over her face and then up into her hair to see that she was even further entangled. "I'm afraid it's hopeless. Maybe the Doc can sedate this thing." He looked down at her, and felt his heart skip a beat.

Only for a moment, before Kathryn lowered her head, he'd seen the truth in her eyes. Over the years there had been other unguarded moments when her feelings had been revealed, and he knew all too well what would follow. She'd offer a brief apologetic look and then act as if nothing had happened.

Not this time, he thought and started to move away. Her hand on his forearm stopped him and he looked down at it. For what seemed like a long time, neither of them moved or spoke, then her thumb began to stroke his arm through the fabric of his sleeve. Slowly, he raised his head to meet her eyes and couldn't believe what he saw. There was no sign of retreat, but an open and loving gaze.

"I was wondering," she said softly, almost shyly, "How do you feel about lavender?"

"La--lavender?" His voice was raspy so he swallowed. "The flower?"

A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "The color."

"It's...nice."

"I can't seem to decide whether or not it's a good color for me." She tugged him closer then moved her hand up to rest on his chest. "I don't suppose you could help me with that?"

The more Chakotay allowed himself to believe that Kathryn was actually coming on to him, the harder he found it to put whole sentences together. "Pajamas?"

"Mmm hmm."

"You...you'll need to model them," he said, regaining some of his equilibrium.

"I think that can be arranged," she said huskily and tilted her face up in invitation. Chakotay leaned in, his heart racing, and Kathryn's eyes began to close. He was about to taste her lips for the first time when a movement at her hairline drew his attention and he froze. With fascination, he watched as some of the tendrils uncoiled and released her hair then began to withdraw.

"Kathryn," he whispered. She opened her eyes. "Do you know what's happening?"

"Nothing yet," she drawled.

"No," he whispered urgently. "The plant. It's letting you go."

"What?"

"The closer we get, the more it pulls away." He looked down at her when she chuckled and reached up to cradle his face in her hands.

"Then by all means come closer." She rose on her toes and tilted her head, aligning their lips, but stopped just short of contact. "What's happening now?"

Just before he closed the final distance between their lips, Chakotay growled, "Who cares?"

~end~